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Article updated: 12/6/2012 7:05 PM

Driver in Libertyville crash identified

By Mick Zawislak

Libertyville police and the Lake County coroner's office are investigating the crash Thursday of a pickup truck that came to rest in an elementary school playground minutes before kindergarten students would have been released for the day, officials said.

Police said they were called to Rockland School, 160 W. Rockland Road, about 10:40 a.m. to find a 2007 Dodge pickup with extensive damage in the unoccupied playground. The 69-year-old male driver and sole occupant, identified as Libertyville resident James Hall, was found unresponsive. He was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center and pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m., said Coroner Thomas Rudd.

No one was on the playground at the time and no bystanders were injured. The morning half-day kindergarten class of 16 students was scheduled to be dismissed at 10:45 a.m. The school houses students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"Our heart goes out to the family involved," Libertyville Elementary District 70 Superintendent Guy Schumacher said in a statement. "We're very grateful none of our parents or children or staff were out there at the time."

The pickup was traveling west. It apparently drove on the sidewalk parallel to the school parking lot, hit a fire hydrant, traffic sign and parked car, went through a fence, over metal bike racks and a large pine tree before coming to rest on the southeast corner of the playground.

Rudd said there will be a post mortem examination Friday morning.

He said witnesses said Hall's truck was traveling at a speed of 30-40 miles per hour, when, witnesses said, he appeared to have lost control.

Three administrators from Highland Middle School and the principal at Copeland Manor came to Rockland to help guide parents and children leaving kindergarten, District 70 spokeswoman Robin Kollman said. Schumacher also was on hand, and Rockland staff members helped direct traffic, she added.

"Principal Jeff Knapp talked to teachers and went to all the classrooms to reassure the children of their safety and addressing any concerns," Kollman said.

The only change in procedure for the day was indoor recess. Rockland Road was closed for about 2 hours but was open when school was dismissed at 2:45 p.m.

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